Welcome to the Community of St. Joseph (Naik) Vaz! St. Joseph Vaz, a 17th century native of India (hence South Asia), who was canonized by Pope Francis last year. Vaz worked for religious freedom in Sri Lanka at the risk of his life and gained the protection of the Buddhist King of Kandy because of his deep dedication to people in need. He nursed and aided the abandoned victims of smallpox in Kandy, established a network of underground schools, chapels, and health clinics throughout the large island, and also left an inculturated para-liturgy and literature in the two principal languages of Sri Lanka, Sinhala and Tamil, thereby equipping them to withstand 150 years of persecution by Dutch colonial rulers.
We are admirers of an Indian, hence South Asian, 17th century Catholic Saint, Joseph Vaz, who totally engaged himself in deep meditation and prayer while also working to solve the real life problems and difficult circumstances of the people. He is a saint who communed with Nature and wild elephants.
Our inter faith commitment is taken from the way in which inter faith trust and respect played out in his life. He served all the people, not just Catholics. His ancestors were Hindu and he kept his Indian heritage, language and culture. His lifestyle was that of a true Indian Sannyasi. He studied with the Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka and taught Meditation to children. He won the lifelong love and protection of the Buddhist King of Kandy from Dutch colonial forces who persecuted Sri Lankan Catholics for political reasons. At one point of his life, he was rescued by the Muslim physician of the King.
We are all struggling with our religious identities and he is a model of mutual love and respect. We at the St Joseph Vaz Institute hope to bring this spiritual energy and effort to our modern problems. The principal one is climate change and environmental and ecological damage to our planet.
You are most welcome to be part of our mission, which is set on the ideals and actions of Saint Joseph Vaz. Let us share in the same vision of the great saint and figure who is very much needed for our times.